Friday, November 17, 2006

Going Local in Boston

Thanks to fellow foodblogger A Mingling of Tastes, I knew exactly where to eat during my whirlwind trip to Boston this week. Her recommendation, Oleana, combines two of my food passions--the spices of the Middle East/eastern Mediterranean and local, sustainable ingredients. This cozy spot's chef, Ana Sorton, has won a James Beard Award, and her produce comes directly from Siena Farms, run by her husband.

It was dark. My pictures were bad. So I made them "artistic"! This is the white bean pate.

A few sips into my apertif--prosecco with pear and cardamom--and all my cares and woes had disappeared into the bubbly. Soon my tasty drink was joined by an even tastier pret a manger (ready to eat), one of a handful of small bites that kick off the menu. I opted for Armenian white bean and walnut pate with homemade string cheese. Atop each ball of pate glimmered two ruby pomegranate seeds, providing a sweet pop contrast to the mild spread.

Always a sucker for a special salad, my next course was the pea green salad with julienned apples and dates wrapped in bacon, stuffed with mozzarella. Though the salad was a bit overdressed, I gobbled it up. The crisp, tart matchstick apples, combined with a small bit of rich date made for a fabulous bite.

Fuzzy apple and pea green salad. Mmmmm...bacony, cheesy dates.

The salad was light enough (or perhaps I was hungry enough) that I still had plenty of room for my main course--homemade sujuk with a quince dolma and butternut squash rice cake. Don't know what sujuk is? Me neither, until I asked the waitress and was pleased to discover it was a homemade Armenian sausage. Though I live in the heart of LA's Little Armenia, this was my first foray into Armenian meats. Slightly spicy, bursting with juice, I need to eat more of these sausages soon!

Homemade sujuk. The plate smelled a bit like sauerkraut when it came out, raising alarm bells for cabbage-hatin' me. It was just the sauteed greens however, and they tasted nothing like kraut.

Oleana's popular for a reason--the seasonal yet exotic food hits all the right notes. It was not a particularly good place for dining solo, however. It has no bar, and at my seat smack in the middle of the tiny, crowded dining room, I felt like I was on center-stage. Plus, with such an interesting menu, a companion or two would allow you to sample more dishes.

134 Hampshire St
Cambridge MA 02139

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